April 12, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (11) is defended by Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (12) in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Rockets 82-78. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets wrap up the pre-season Friday night in Memphis as they take on their division rivals. In no way should the game be taken lightly as the Rockets get their first test playing in a back-to-back game.
The Rockets have clicked on all cylinders so far, and it shows as they’ve compiled a 5-1 record so far in the pre-season. With just one game left before the regular season kicks off, Friday night’s matchup against the Grizzlies will still be key for coach Kevin McHale in figuring out how the team will look like come Oct. 30.
The Dreadful Back-To-Back
The Rockets were bad last season in the 2nd game of back-to-backs, finishing with a 6-15 record. Playing with mainly an 8-man rotation in Thursday night’s win over the San Antonio Spurs, it’ll be important to see how the starters and reserves respond.
One aspect that McHale could consider in the regular season is to go deeper in the bench on back-to-back games. Greg Smith, Donatas Motiejunas, and Ronnie Brewer, all players who were either in the Rockets rotation last season, or in Brewer’s case, has always received consistent minutes in his career, didn’t check in the game until the 7-minute mark in the 4th quarter. The Rockets have incredible depth heading into this season, and that could be used as an advantage to improve their horrendous back-to-back record from last season.
Twin Towers To The Rescue?
With the Dwight Howard and Omer Asik combination looking better in Thursday’s game, the Grizzlies will challenge to see if the Rockets indeed can matchup with teams who have big bodies in the paint. Memphis’s own combination of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have created havoc for years now, and was a weak point for the Rockets as they lost the season series last year.
Which pair can command the paint will determine which team comes out on top. That will be the determining factor once the two teams play in the regular season.
Rotation Being Set
It’s beginning to look like McHale will choose to go with an 8-man rotation to begin the season. Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin, Omri Casspi, and Francisco Garcia seem to be the players who will be getting consistent minutes. While the starters at point guard and power forward remains a mystery, the Rockets are in good hands as both the combinations of Beverley/Lin and Howard/Casspi/Parsons at each position have been highly productive.